Gilgamesh And The Monomyth Analysis

968 words - 4 pages

Gilgamesh and the Monomyth

The Monomyth, a theory perfected by Joseph Campbell, is a “hero’s journey in a story that refers to a basic pattern found in many narratives from around the world” (Campbell 2). The Monomyth is divided into three stages: Separation, Initiation, and Return. In these three stages, there are a total of seventeen sub-stages that explain each stage in specific detail. The Epic of Gilgamesh fulfills the stages of Separation and Initiation, but it does not fit the third stage, Return. Specifically, Gilgamesh supports the sub-stages of Call to Adventure, Supernatural Aid, and The Ultimate Boon. Gilgamesh does not support the magic flight and the master of two worlds ...view middle of the document...

During the fight with Humbaba, Shamash helps Gilgamesh by “rais[ing] up against Humbaba mighty tempests… thirteen winds rose up against him and covered Humbaba’s face. He could not butt through the front, and could not scramble out the back” (Kovacs 43-44). This examples supports Joseph Campbell theory of Supernatural Aid, which is a “protective power that is always and ever present within or just behind, the unfamiliar features of the world” (Campbell 10). The Epic of Gilgamesh meets Supernatural Aid because the goddess Shamash protects and provides help during the fight of Gilgamesh and Humbaba.
The last sub-stage, the Ultimate Boon, is “the achievement of the goal of the quest. It is what the person went on the journey to get. All the previous steps serve to prepare and purify the person for this step, since in many myths the boon is something transcendent like the elixir of life itself, or a plant that supplies immortality, or the holy grail” (Campbell 18). Gilgamesh achieves the Ultimate Boon when Urshanabi says, “there is a plant like a boxthorn, whose thorns will prick your hand like a rose. If your hands reach the plant you will become a young man again” (Kovacs 106). Gilgamesh grasps the plant with both hands and takes it. This supports the Ultimate Boon because the plant that turns you into a young man again was what Gilgamesh went on the journey to obtain.
The Epic of Gilgamesh does not support the Return stage and it’s sub-stages. Specifically, it does not support the magic flight and the master of two worlds sub-stages. There are no events shown in Gilgamesh that supports any of those sub-stages. For example, magic flight is a “hero escap[ing] with the boon. This can be just as adventurous and dangerous returning from the journey as it was to go on it” (Campbell 6). In The Epic of Gilgamesh,...

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